by Andrew Madanjian
WMHS Bulls Eye Staff
From year to year, there are always subtle variations in the day-to-day business of the school. However, this year WMHS saw a fairly radical shake-up in our daily morning routine. This year, the high school is getting rid of homeroom.
With the extra time gained from eliminating homeroom, the school will be able to include five half days spread throughout the year. The first half-day in September has already passed, and the remaining four early dismissal days will be November 15, December 4, January 11, and March 14.
The prospect of getting out early is quite popular among many students, like senior Abi Bose.
“I definitely would rather have half days, going to homeroom just wasted time,” said Bose.
Even teachers are excited about this schedule change and see its advantages for the school. Science teacher and peer mediation advisor Kristin Rossi believes change can be beneficial.
“The benefits of getting rid of homeroom are why I was in support of the idea. I think it will create a better environment for the school. It will allow students to be accountable for being late to school as students will now be missing valuable class time. Not having homeroom is also great for early morning AP classes as students will be able to spend a block of time without interruptions.”
Science teacher Kunjumol Joseph concurs with Rossi that getting rid of homeroom can encourage students to get to class on time.
“I’m really happy about the fact of not having homeroom. It gets rid of the hassle of kids coming in late. It will make kids who really care about their classes get to first period on time,” said Joseph.
However, some students appreciated the time homeroom gave them in the morning and will miss having it be a part of their schedule. Senior Allie Pappas would rather have things stay the same.
“I think that getting rid of homeroom isn’t our school's best idea. People are going to end up missing part of first period, which is just going to put them behind in that class. Plus homeroom gave you a few minutes in the morning to put final touches on homework and catch up with friends. I mean the half-days will be nice, but I don't think getting rid of homeroom is worth it,” said Pappas.
Removing homeroom from the schedule could also pose problems for classes that meet together in homeroom. Peer Mediation will be affected by the change, but Rossi is looking into alternatives to make sure the group can still function and communicate effectively.
“For Peer Mediation losing homeroom is not a good thing. This time is when mediators gel as a cohesive group. My mediators are for the most part a lively bunch in the morning and I enjoy seeing them each day. Additionally I schedule mediators for the periods they are doing mediations during this time. Some days I go through five mediators before I can find one that can fit a certain period into their schedule,” said Rossi. “We are trying to figure out what to do about this. So far all we have come up with is setting up a mediator Twitter account that they could follow and we could post messages to each other. I hope to have this figured out over the next couple weeks once the mediators and I have had a chance to try out the new schedule and see how we can make it work.”
However, removing homeroom won’t be a concern to Yearbook, another class that meets during homeroom.
“It actually won’t affect us. The kids come in early anyways. Homeroom was just a five minute grace period,” said Yearbook advisor Susan Thifault.
This changeover in the schedule came about in order to create time in the school year for professional development days for the teachers.
Principal Joseph Finigan discussed how getting rid of homeroom was inspired by the need for such professional development time during the school year.
“We proposed it to the school committee and they approved it. It arose from our need to create time in the schedule for professional development. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges suggested we add professional development. On the one hand, we have that need, and on the other is having 990 hours in the year for state time and learning standards. By eliminating the homeroom period, we were able to trade that off for five early releases. I think teachers are pleased. They see it as a need, and it’s important to take advantage of that time,” said Finigan.
At this point, however, it isn’t exactly clear what these sessions will entail.
“As for the professional development days, I don’t know what we are going to do with that time. We have new teacher evaluation days. The state has made new requirements for teachers, so one might deal with that topic. But for right now, I don’t really know,” said Joseph.
Assistant Principal Edward Maguire is confident that everyone will adjust to the schedule change.
“There’s two different types if transitions. There’s transition for the kids and teachers and there’s transition for the morning schedule. The normal protocol for us as administrators has changed because now we’re getting attendance in second period,” said Maguire. The good thing is now we have time for professional development days. In the future, there will be professional development choices. If you’re an English teacher, you can spend your time specializing in reading comprehension or writing. If you’re a math teacher, you could work on MCAS material. After we get past the things that are staring us in the face now, it will open up a lot of choices.”
While this idea may have garnered some controversy and it will take some time to adjust to the transition, certainly no student will be complaining when those gratifying half days arrive. Hopefully the time gained from eliminating homeroom will be beneficial to both students and teachers alike.